Four Public Service Unions will not be bound by ICTU vote


Four unions have indicated today (Thursday) that they will not be bound by a majority vote by ICTU affiliated unions in favour of the new Croke Park agreement. The INMO, CPSU, IMO and Unite made this known after a meeting this morning which was also attended by representatives of the TUI, ASTI and AHCPS all of whom are advocating a rejection of the agreement.

According to RTE: CPSU General Secretary Eoin Ronayne said his members would not be comfortable voting for a pay cut for other public servants.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said this morning's comments by IMF official Ashoka Mody that austerity was the wrong policy vindicated their position.(Professor Ashoka Mody a former IMF mission chief admitted today that the austerity approach was a failure and that bondholders should have suffered)

Other unions are still voting on the agreement, but this news will have a dampening effect on the efforts of the leadership of SIPTU's campaign to have their members accept the agreement. Wednesday sees the conclusion of voting and results are expected that day.

The announcement comes amidst a rising tide of anger amongst public service workers, stoked by threats from government Ministers notably Labour's Brendan Howlin that wages would be cut unilaterally if the agreement was not accepted. The government appear to have greatly underestimated the effects of attempting to bully the workforce.

The rejection of the agreement by these unions and the possibility of further rejection by others mean a confrontation between public sector unions and the government now seems inevitable. How the unions take the fight forward is now the key question facing activists within the unions. A return to a fairly passive weak approach to dealing with the government's demands could ultimately lead to defeat, a more innovative and aggressive campaign could put a weak unpopular government on the back foot. Campaigners in other areas like the CAHWT will find potential allies here. Making common cause against the austerity programme of the government and its international backers at a time when the austerity approach is being questioned even by those who initiated it could yield results.

Words: James McBarron